Coronavirus latest news: Fears Prime Minister will approve plans to delay ending restrictions

A prominent academic has joined calls for the Government to postpone its planned lifting of coronavirus restrictions on June 21 to preserve the progress the country has made in battling the pandemic.

Epidemiologist Sian Griffiths also says an envisaged “all-or-nothing Freedom Day” could be a bad idea in itself, promoting instead the more gradual lifting of measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

It comes with Boris Johnson indicating he is set to announce a four-week delay for lifting restrictions, with the Prime Minister on Saturday calling the spread of the Indian variant a matter of “serious, serious concern”.

Prof Griffiths, an associate director of Public Health England, said the recent rise in Covid cases in the UK had changed the landscape on reopening.

“The public health advice would be to take it slowly and in a sustained way so we can keep up the progress we’ve been making,” she told BBC TV.

Prof Griffiths said: “It does depend on the balance. It’s a political decision at the end of the day, what happens on the 21st of June, but from a public health point of view we’re seeing the cases increase, we’re seeing a slight increase in hospitalisation in areas where there are a lot of cases, and the vaccination does work but we need to get second doses into everybody over 50, and expand the vaccination programme to keep everybody safe.

“I think waiting a little bit longer to sustain the progress is necessary but it may not be an all-or-nothing Freedom Day.

“I have a problem with the concept of Freedom Day. I think this could be done more gradually, but obviously these are decisions that are having to be made during the course of discussions today. There are so many things that need to be taken into account.”